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1. Why do I grant a licence when I deposit a document in SSOAR?

Basically, licences regulate the rights and obligations pertaining to the use of documents accessible on the Internet. Under such licences, authors grant to others certain rights of use in the documents which they make available and stipulate the restrictions on and conditions of use (especially with regard to further distribution).

In concrete terms, this means that under such a licence you grant SSOAR the right to make your texts freely accessible on the Internet in the first place. Without this right, SSOAR would not be entitled to do so. (This presupposes that you possess at least a non-exclusive right of use in your own work.)

(See FAQ "Who owns the text?" And when am I legally entitled to self-archive a published paper in SSOAR?)

Such a licence allows all those who have access to the document to use it freely. However, it also imposes obligations on the user, thereby regulating the further distribution of the document or its contents. There are a number of different licences available. They differ in terms of the extent of the rights granted and the obligations imposed.

(See FAQ What licences are used in SSOAR?)

2. What licences are used in SSOAR?

Three different types of licence are used in SSOAR. The individual licences vary in terms of restrictiveness. On the one hand, we use the Creative Commons standard licensing agreements. Creative Commons (CC), one of the best-known bodies dealing with licensing issues, is a non-profit organisation which provides a range of free public licences. These licence agreements are both sturdy enough to stand up in court and worded in such a way that they can be understood and used by people ho do not have a legal background.

Alternatively, you can opt to use one of the licence modules developed by Digital Peer Publishing NRW (North Rhine Westphalia). These DiPP Licences have been checked by legal experts and provide a solid legal basis for documents which are to be made accessible online. In addition to the CC and DiPP licences which permit users to further distribute documents to others under certain conditions, we now offer a so-called Deposit or Archiving Licence. This is a very restrictive instrument which can be used especially in cases where authors are obliged (for example by their publishers) when self-archiving to contractually preclude users from modifying or further distributing their documents.

In SSOAR you will furthermore find the PEER Licence Agreement applicable to the full texts from the PEER project (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research).

3. What types of Creative Commons licences are there?

As a non-profit organisation, Creative Commons offers free of charge a set of licence agreements with which you, as the author, grant others rights to use and distribute your work. At the same time, these licences stipulate the conditions pertaining to such use and distribution. The licence agreements are freely accessible on the Internet and can be used for various categories of Web-based materials such as texts, photos and music.

All CC-licences  can be used in SSOAR.

4. What types of DiPP-Licences are there?

The rules governing the online distribution of scholarly publications, which Digital Peer Publishing NRW has laid down, find expression in three different DiPP licences (DPPL): a) the Basic DPPL, b) the Modular DPPL and c) the Free DPPL.

(a) The Basic DPPL allows users to read the document, to electronically distribute verbatim copies thereof and to make it available for downloading. It does not permit users to modify the work in any way. Hence it is especially suitable for making finished works available to the public which the author wishes to be distributed verbatim with due attribution. Moreover, because the document may be distributed in electronic form only, the rights of use in print form or on data storage media are retained by the author and are not covered by the licence. The idea is to promote the electronic distribution while leaving the copyright holder the option to grant the right of physical distribution to a third party, for example a publisher.

(b) Under the Modular DPPL, the author grants users the right to modify certain designated areas of the document only. These designated areas may be modified at will whereas the remaining parts of the work may be distributed only verbatim. Hence, for example, the modification of a single diagram may be permitted whereas the surrounding text may have to remain unchanged.

(c) The Free DPPL allows the work to be modified and modified versions to be distributed.  Where such far-reaching rights of use are granted, special precautions must be taken to protect the interests of the original author. This relates, on the one hand, to attribution. If the original work is modified, the original author is no longer the author of the modified work. However, reference must be made to the original author unless that author decrees that he or she should not be mentioned. Moreover, the modified version must also be distributed under a Free DPPL, thereby ensuring that the author of the modified version does not benefit  one-sidedly from the generosity of the original author but, rather, is obliged to make the modified version available for further development.

(Text taken partly from

5. Deposit Licence: No Modifications, no Further Distribution

The Deposit or Archiving Licence must be used when authors hold only a non-exclusive right of use in the work and are therefore obliged when self-archiving to contractually preclude  users from modifying or further distributing it. For example, if authors have granted their publishers exclusive rights of use in their work, they are obliged to obtain a non-exclusive right of use from them to archive their work in SSOAR or in another document server. Many publishers agree to open-access archiving of documents only subject to the proviso that, while the work may be made electronically available for scholarly purposes, it may not be distributed further by third parties.

The wording of the SSOAR Deposit Licence - No Modifications, No Further Distribution:

§1 Definitions

In this licensing agreement

a) "Work" means the electronic version of the Work including the abstract, images and other related data.

b) "Electronic version" means a scholarly text which is stored in an electronic format.

§2 Your rights as author to publish the Work

Under this licensing agreement, SSOAR is granted a non-exclusive right to archive the Work in the SSOAR document server. Your right to publish the Work elsewhere or to modify it is not affected by this agreement. By archiving the Work and making it accessible, SSOAR does not acquire any ownership rights to it.

§3 Archiving in SSOAR

By agreeing to this agreement, you, as author or copyright holder, grant SSOAR a non-exclusive right for the purpose stated above and warrant that the following facts are correct:
a) You are the author or the copyright holder and are therefore entitled to conclude this agreement and to grant to SSOAR the right to make the Work publicly available in the repository.

b) The Work (within the meaning of §2 of the German Copyright Act, UrhG) is an original work and, to the best of your knowledge and belief, it does not infringe the rights, especially the copyright, of others. (The latter can include co-authors or funders such as foundations or scholarly institutions.) The author or copyright holder shall indemnify SSOAR against any claims by third parties in connection with the Work. SSOAR reserves the right to block access to the Work if there is any indication that the rights of third parties have been infringed.

§4 Rights granted to SSOAR

The non-exclusive right of use granted to SSOAR entitles it to distribute  electronic copies of the Work for an indefinite period of time and, where necessary, to (formally) modify it so that it can be reproduced on future computer systems. The latter permission precludes modifications of the content of the Work. No fee is payable to SSOAR for distribution of the Work.

§5 Rights granted to users

Works governed by this Deposit Licence may be downloaded freely by users. However, it precludes users from modifying the Work or further distributing it to others.

§6 Withdrawal of the Work

You may at any time request that the Work be removed from the repository. By the same token, SSOAR reserves the right to remove the Work from the repository for legal, professional or administrative reasons. A metadata record indicating that the Work was made publicly available on SSOAR will remain visible on a permanent basis.

§7 Disclaimer

While every reasonable effort will be made to preserve the Work on a lasting basis, SSOAR cannot be held responsible for the loss of or damage to the Work or related data.


6. PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)

This is the author's accepted manuscript. This version has been peer-reviewed, prior to publication. SSOAR provides users access the research output of the PEER project (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research). Consult the project website for further details:
Copyright© and Moral Rights for the paper are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. Users may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL of this paper.

7. What licence is recommended for deposits in SSOAR?

Because the licences vary in terms of restrictiveness, it is up to you to choose the type of licence that best suits your needs. As a rule, authors choose a licence which allows them to retain copyright but permits users to download their works and share them with others as long as they name the author and/or the copyright holder, but not to change or use them commercially in any way. This is what the Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives licence allows.

When depositing your work in SSOAR you can select on our online form the licence type which best suits your needs.